Hector Avalo’s outlines polar positions regarding translation:
(1) “A translation is an interpretation. Absolute reproduction is impossible in any work” (Phillip Schaff, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 38)
(2) ‘the bible, unlike any other book, is able to ‘adapt itself perfectly’…and to speak with equal directness, clearness and authority to all peoples, tribes, and nations in their mother tongue’ (Avalos paraphrasing Philip Mauro, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 38)
The second approach has the translation problem of ‘functional equivalence’ (or dynamic equivalence) – purpose:
“From the point of view of the target literature, all translation implies a degree of manipulation of the source text for a certain purpose” (Avalos quoting Theo Hermans, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 39-40)
“The basic principle of dynamic/functional equivalence is to use translations that would make sense in the reader’s culture rather than exact-word equivalents” (Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 41)
Example: Romans 3:28 – Luther adds in the world ‘alone’ to ‘faith alone’ based on the needs of the German language.
Another problem with ‘functional equivalence’ – priority”
“So, in some ways, dynamic/functional equivalence privileges the target language (the language for which the translation is meant) over the source language (the language from which the translation is made)” (Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 42)
Some examples (Tanakh):
Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (polytheism) – the terms ‘The Most High’ (Elyon) and ‘The Lord’ (YHWH)
Genesis 1:1-3 (Creation from nothing?) – ‘Accordingly Genesis 1:1-3 does not describe creation out of nothing (creation ex nihilo), but the story begins with something already there” (Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 46). I have also heard this claim in Jewish theology by Rabbi Neil Gilman in another book I am reading about ‘God’.
Some example (Gospels):
Luke 14:25-26 – the word ‘hate’ is translated differently in the Good News Bible and the comparative approach creates problems with other translations (as in hate in regards to loving Jesus)
Matthew 19:12 – CEV sanitizes the act of genital mutilation as ‘okay’ with Jesus
The NIV/TNIV has decided to add ‘gender inclusive’ language to fit the market – problem – hides the misogyny and creates translation problems:
“All gender-inclusive translations, therefore, aim not to express the original culture of ancient authors but to hide it and render it palatable to modern culture” (Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 56)
Anti Judaism in the NT texts (translators, namely of the NIV strand, are trying to hide these occurrences):
Irvin J. Borowsky states that it would be good for biblical societies and religious publications to create two editions – one for the public and one for scholars (paraphrased from The End of Biblical Studies, pg 56).
“Orwellian double-speak could not be celebrated more fervently. The proposal is paternalistic because it assumes that readers need to be protected from their own bible.” (Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 56)
In conclusion, Avalo’s sees a pattern in translation, whether formal (word for word) or functional equivalence…”mistranslation is, in this sense, often the goal of all biblical translations.” (Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies, pg 58).
So, do students of the bible has a problem here with translation and knowing what they are (or are not) reading in the texts from translatiing from Hebrew and Greek to English? How much of a problem is this? Are we being mis-lead?